Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Requiem for a Dream: A Yet More Disturbing but Worthy Expierence

Requiem for a Dream
Director: Darren Aronofsky
Year: 2000
Country: USA

I have only seen two films by Darren Aronofsky, this and The Wrestler, but he is already becoming one of my favorites directors. I still have to see Pi, The Fountain and Black Swan, but if they are just half as good as these two were, then they are certainly incredible. Now, for this film, the drug drama Requiem for a Dream, a very underrated exceptional work, can be Aronofsky's masterpiece. And while I haven't seen over half of his filmography, I a pretty sure that beating this film will be hard to accomplish, but whom other than the very man that did it? I guess I'll have to wait to watch them so I can safely say which is his masterpiece.

Requiem for a Dream explores the themes of how addictions can degrade human beings. The film tells the story of Harry Goldfarb (Jared Leto), his girlfriend Marion (Jennifer Connely), his mother Sarah (Ellen Burstyn) and his friend Tryone (Marlon Wayans). Harry and Marion have the dream of opening a fashion store with Marion's designs, but to do this they need money, so they enter the world of drug trafficking. Tyrone's dream is to escape the life of the streets, and he needs the money too. But while dealing with drugs these three characters get hooked with heroin themselves, and that drives them to a world of addiction and they would do anything to get the drugs. Sarah's dream is to appear on Television, and when she receives a call that tells her that she will in the next couple of months, she starts a very strict diet and starts taking pills to lose weight, but those pills ultimately drive her crazy.

I had been looking for a while for a film that would actually scar me. Its not that I wanted to be scarred, but it was kind of a test for me. I had seen many films that have been categorized as disturbing but they weren't too much for me and after a couple of days I had forgotten the feeling they had made me experience. I finally found a film that did this a few days ago (check my review for Oldboy), and yet I still thought that films could get a whole lot more disturbing. And then I watched this. This film might not be appropiate for people around my age, but I think this is a good age to watch it. And while the graphic material displayed in this film may be too much, the film shows how the world of drugs can affect people, and in a world were people get hooked with them around 15, I think this might be the perfect age to watch it.

The film has a very powerful message, which is clearly that drugs can harm human beings, degrading them and making them lose their dignity. The message, transmitted by the strong images, can become quite disturbing as you watch the film, but you have to let it sink in to really make an effect. And believe, after watching this film you'll probably want to stay as much as you can away from narcotics.

The performances are impressive all around. Ellen Burstyn was, deservedly, nominated for an Academy Award. She embodies her character, she adapts to every tick or expression she has, every thing she says she means it, and when she breaks down you will think it was all natural. Jared Leto's performance was also pretty good, he fits his character and he can be him. Marlon Wayans, surprisingly (you've seen him in the Scary Movie films, Hot Chicks or Little Man, and you'd know his acting credentials aren't really special), delivers a pretty good performance too, taking his character's small characteristics and making them his. Jennifer Connelly delivers what could be her best performance (maybe even better than in A Beautiful Mind) as she becomes her troubled character. All her scenes you can see she believes what she says and what she does, she makes her character her, she feels everything that her character feels, and in the final scenes you can see how she descends even lower not only in her acts but in her eyes, you can see how it affects her.

But what's probably the best aspect of this film is Darren Aronofsky's direction. His style is something that I hadn't seen before (not even in The Wrestler). You can see how he made the effort to transmit the message he wants to give and it is clear that he succeeds. When the characters do drugs he doesn't show them inhaling or injecting or swalling pills (maybe he does a little) but instead he does rapid cuts which shows how the drugs enter their system. It is a little hard to explain, but it was an impressive work.

I have to mention the film's score which is almost entirely composed by the composition Requiem for a Dream. The song is very powerful and epic, and in the scenes it plays it is perfect, it makes the effect it tries to create.

The only real problem there is with the film is that it is way too disturbing, though that was essential to deliver the message it tries to give, but it will certainly become a problem to many people, and that would explain why some critics didn't like it. I guess they weren't ready for something like this, and nor was I but still I liked it. However, its strong graphic material will prove too much for some viewers.

Darren Aronofsky's Requiem for a Dream (his probable masterpiece) is an essential film that people should see for the strong message it delivers. The film is packed with excellent performances and outstanding direction. And while the film can be very disturbing, which can be the problem with many people, it is a very important film that teenagers should see (even if it can be too much for them) for its message, so they can stay away from drugs.
My recommendation: It can be too much, but I think that everyone should see it.
My score: 97%


  1. I really want to see this, ive heard nothing but good things. I have only seen Black Swan of his but it makes me think that this guy is fantastic and everything he has done is probably incredible. excellent review

  2. This is a fantastic film. One of the most powerful and frank films about drug addiction that I have ever seen. I highly recommend it. Great review. I am glad that you found it and hope that you were able to learn from it.

  3. @Erik, I still have to see Black Swan but I have heard nothing but great things so I'm really looking forward to it. I hope you are able to find this and that you like it as well
    @Sparky, thnxs, I agree with you and I did learn from it :)

  4. I think this film would prove to disturbing for me, but I might have to see it someday...

    Excellent review CACB

  5. Thnxs Jack. Yeah, maybe eventually you'll see it. I hadn't seen it before because of that, but I finally saw it and loved it